First, the bad news: there’s a good chance your employees are unhappy. But the good news is that you may be able to remedy their dissatisfaction by offering professional development opportunities.

According to the Gallup Management Journal’s semi-annual Employee Engagement Index, 60% of employees are not engaged with their employer, and 15% are actively disengaged. Only 25% reported being actively engaged in the workplace.

For employers, these figures can translate into lost productivity—and lost revenue. Research by Psychometrics Canada shows a correlation between employee engagement and . As well, research by Aon Hewitt has shown that organizations with engaged employees are more likely to have a healthier workforce and decreased rates of absenteeism.

One way employers can fight back at disengagement is by offering professional development opportunities, says Stacy Parker, executive vice-president of marketing with Randstad Canada.

She says that by implementing a career development process, employers can motivate and retain staff, and attract new talent. And, in the process, employers can also align employees’ views with those of the organization.

“Aligning an employee’s vision of career success along with the company’s strategic business goals and objectives is not just a ‘nice’ thing to do—it’s vital to good business,” says Parker.

“The stronger our people, the stronger our corporations. When employees have a viable career development plan in place, they feel valued by, and take a greater interest in, the organization, which, in turn, provides greater meaning to their work and becomes a key driver of productivity, retention and performance. It’s really a win-win situation.”

Focusing on professional development may be particularly beneficial for the gen Xers in the workforce—a demographic that is apparently feeling squeezed as of late. According to research by PwC, gen X employees are sandwiched between aggressive gen Ys moving up the ranks and boomers delaying retirement. PwC’s survey of Canadian banks found that the promotion rates for gen X employees have fallen from 11% to less than 10%, despite the fact that they are in the peak years of their careers.

“With older workers staying on longer and [with] younger employees hunger[ing] for advancement [and] coming up from below, the potential for disaffection in the generation X ranks is significant,” says the report.

To help encourage career development and boost employee engagement among all demographics, Parker suggests the following tips:

  • Talk to employees regularly about their development. Get a clear picture of what they believe their strengths and weaknesses are.
  • Set goals with employees, then help them to create a plan to meet their goals.
  • Provide mentorship opportunities for employees to develop their strengths with a strong performer within the organization.
  • Create training opportunities, such as on-the-job training, special projects, role-rotation assignments, job shadowing, etc.

“Employers need to master the art of discussing career paths with employees while focusing on understanding and incorporating that particular employee’s goals,” she says. “To retain the best and brightest, organizations must do everything they can to help their leaders advance.”

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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